The Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments or Roerich Pact is an inter-American treaty. The most important idea of the Roerich Pact is the legal recognition that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the use or destruction of that culture for military purposes, and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity.
The Roerich Pact
In 1929 Roerich in collaboration with Paris University professor G.G. Shklyaver prepared a draft of an international treaty dedicated to protection of cultural values. The scheme was to be a cultural analog to the Red Cross for medical neutrality.
In 1930, text of draft agreement with accompanying Roerich’s appeal to governments and peoples of all countries was published in press and distributed in government, scientific, artistic and educational institutions of the whole world. As a result, the committees supporting the Pact were established in many countries. The draft pact was approved by Committee for Museum affairs at League of Nations and also by the Committee of the Pan-American Union. Ultimately, the Pact was signed by 21 states in the Americas and was ratified by ten of them.
A few years after the Second World War, the Roerich Pact played an important role in forming of international law standards and public activity in the field of protection of cultural heritage. In 1949, at the fourth session of general UNESCO conference, a decision was accepted to begin the work for international law regulation in the field of cultural heritage protection in case of armed conflict.
Ideas of Roerich Pact still are not implemented in the international law, especially its principle of the almost unlimited preference of the preservation of cultural values to the military necessity.